Stove Top Kitchen Fires

Unattended cooking fires are the leading cause of home fires in Columbia. and the United States. The solution to the problem is to NEVER leave cooking unattended – not even for a minute.

Facts & figures

  • Between 2003 and 2006 , U.S. fire departments responded to 6,600 home structure fires that involved microwave cooking equipment. These fires caused 3 civilian fire deaths, 110 civilian fire injuries and $22 million in direct property damage.
  • Cooking equipment fires are the leading cause of home structure fires and associated civilian injuries. These fires accounted for 40% of all reported home structure fires in and 36% of home civilian injuries.
  • Twelve percent of the fires occurred when something that could catch fire was too close to the equipment.
  • 57% of reported home cooking fire injuries occurred when victims tried to fight the fire themselves.
  • Thanksgiving is the peak day for home cooking fires.

Source: NFPA’s Fire Analysis and Research Division

However, should a fire occur, the best, and only way, to battle a stove top fire is by using the “Put a Lid on It!” method. It’s pretty simple, when your cooking you make sure you have the proper fitting lid (or a flat baking sheet) and a hot mitt handy. Should a fire start, you simply put on the hot mitt, use the lid or baking sheet as a ‘shield’ and gently slide the lid or baking sheet across the top of the pan/pot with the fire. You then turn off the burner and wait for the pan/pot to cool. Don’t remove the lid or baking sheet because if there is still enough heat, it could reignite.

  • If you have any doubts about your safety – EVACUATE and call 9-1-1 from a neighbors house.
  • Never throw water, flour, or sugar on a fire.
  • Do not use a fire extinguisher at close range. 

Safety Tips

  • Always use cooking equipment tested and approved by a recognized testing facility.
  • Never leave cooking food on the stovetop unattended, and keep a close eye on food cooking inside the oven.
  • Keep cooking areas clean and clear of combustibles (e.g. potholders, towels, rags, drapes and food packaging).
  • Keep children away from cooking areas by enforcing a “kid-free zone” of three feet (1 meter) around the stove. Keep pets from underfoot so you do not trip while cooking. Also, keep pets off cooking surfaces and nearby countertops to prevent them from knocking things onto burner.
  • Wear short, close fitting or tightly rolled sleeves when cooking. Loose clothing can dangle onto stove burners and catch fire.
  • Never use a wet oven mitt, as it presents a scald danger if the moisture in the mitt is heated.
  • Always keep a potholder, oven mitt and lid handy. If a small fire starts in a pan on the stove, put on an oven mitt and smother the flames by carefully sliding the lid over the pan. Turn off the burner. Don’t remove the lid until it is completely cool.
  • Never pour water on a grease fire and never discharge a fire extinguisher onto a pan fire, as it can spray or shoot burning grease around the kitchen, actually spreading the fire.
  • If there is an oven fire, turn off the heat and keep the door closed to prevent flames from burning you and your clothing.
  • If there is a microwave fire, keep the door closed and unplug the microwave. Call the fire department and make sure to have the oven serviced before you use it again. Food cooked in a microwave can be dangerously hot. Remove the lids or other coverings from microwaved food carefully to prevent steam burns.